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How much does your IT job pay?

By 22 April 2012 18

I have been looking for a new job in the IT field as the writing is on the wall for the one I have now. The new game seems to be contracting. No more solid walk in jobs based on years of experience. So, I dressed up and went to pimp myself and my skills to prospective employers. The first thing all the recruiting companies ask is “what is your rate?” They won’t tell me what jobs are offering though. Some employers I’ve had interviews at won’t even let me discuss rates with co-workers.

So, what do you get paid for your IT job? What do you do, public / private / contractor, and what do you get paid for it? I’m looking for full time public service help desk and want $28 an hour or more. I am currently on a short term contact, private and earning $35 an hour. I would like to earn that full time, but it seems no one wants to pay that rate for a full time public service job in a help desk.

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18 Responses to How much does your IT job pay?
#1
steveu2:05 pm, 22 Apr 12

hays salary guide may be of some help.

#2
Lazy I2:39 pm, 22 Apr 12

I’d be careful lumping ‘IT’ into a single discipline.. it is a massive field and salary depends greatly on your industry qualifications, experience, area of speciality (if you have one), hands on experience with specific technologies… and a proven record (with references) of delivering results and staying up to date with current tech.

If your primary skill is that you can take a help desk call and put it in a job management system.. I wouldn’t hold your breath for that rate. If you have proven problem solving skills in current technologies that people use, can back it up with industry certifications and references, 45-55k shouldn’t be a problem in public or private.

A good pimp should be able to tell you what kind of work/rate to expect for your level of experience. LinkedIn would be a good place to get a profile going too.

#3
Truthiness2:52 pm, 22 Apr 12

Desktop support is a mug’s game, in my experience most enterprise systems are broken by design, and since most of the problems are known, you spend your whole time answering the same questions for users who blame you for the poor design of their systems. Your best bet is to either get yourself down the team lead path and eventually get into project management, or move away from desktop support into server support and server admin.

The next thing is, permanent jobs don’t work in terms of per hour rates, they work on yearly salaries, and while they seem low, once you factor in sick days, public holidays and vacations, they’re actually relatively competitive with contract roles. For instance, you say you are getting $35 per hour, which at first glance works out to $70k per annum, but you are not a machine, you get sick, you take holidays, in reality your take home pay is likely to be closer to $50k.

There are plenty of places that’ll offer $60k for an experienced desktop support officer, but to get much more than that you are going to have to specialise further. Frankly, as I said, most of the problems you are dealing with are known, there are knowledge bases and higher level support officers to deal with the more complex things. There is not much skill required for your role, they can fill it with people who barely know the first thing about computers, and still get similar results to yours, so your only choice is to skill up beyond the desk monkeys :)

I’d suggest teaching yourself a programming language, getting familiar with Linux and databases and getting to a point where you are a commodity, rather than bum filling a chair.

#4
I-filed2:54 pm, 22 Apr 12

Make sure you do your sums properly: to be paid the equivalent of a top increment APS6, with casual loading (taking into account that APS get 4 weeks a year personal leave) you should be on at least $50 an hour as a private contractor. Remember that Hays et al will be charging the agency at least $80 and hour – so don’t let them fool you into taking less than the APS-equivalent entitlements.

#5
Dilandach3:07 pm, 22 Apr 12

If you’ve got ambition, helpdesk is the last place you should be.

$35 an hour for helpdesk is exceptional, even for contracting. Full time, you’re going to be lucky to get north of $50k per year unless you’re special in some way. You have to remember, you need to give them a reason why they should be paying you so much and not just pay some other guy $20k less who would do just as good a job.

Climb the IT ladder, GTFO of helpdesk and into some real IT work. Don’t linger in IT roles, keep moving, learning and looking. Don’t be that fat guy who sits on the helpdesk and has no ambition to move up or do anything that would interfere with his neck beard growing or writing sailor moon / dragonball z fanfic cross overs. Don’t be that guy.

…and don’t be afraid to take a pay hit sometimes. The role that might pay $5k less than your previous one might be the job that gets you doing more complicated work, more experience and in the long term worth a lot more than the measly 5k you initial missed out on.

#6
Darkfalz3:10 pm, 22 Apr 12

I get $34 an hour, with an average of about 27% penalties.

#7
Woody Mann-Caruso3:22 pm, 22 Apr 12

God, I miss the late 90s. ‘Yeah, just reboot it.’ That’ll be $80K, thank you.

#8
tommy3:59 pm, 22 Apr 12

If you’re doing $35/hour for helpdesk, you’re doing ok.

One option (if you don’t want to pimp yourself via recruiters) is to sign up for casual registers for the bigger government departments. Get some good experience that way.

If you have any IT gear at home – learn something like virtualisation. Plenty places looking for virtualisation ‘administrators’ at entry level rates and willing to give you a week or two of boot camp (but formally recognised) training.

#9
dvaey4:40 pm, 22 Apr 12

In a way, asking someone how much they think theyre worth, is a good way to filter out those in it for the money and those in it for the job. I got out of IT many years ago because I had a passion for the job and was put off by so many in the industry with big pay packets but no interest in the job.

Youve got a fairly vague question though, as others have pointed out ‘IT job’, even in a support role could range from an IT job helping grandma setup her email and dialup to maintaining ASIO servers and networks. Theres no point in trying to find an “‘IT’ job that pays $28/hr+”, when the employers are normally looking to hire depending on your specific training or knowledge. You should be looking for jobs that meet your qualifications and if they dont pay what youre expecting, then maybe youve overvalued yourself?

#10
watto2312:58 pm, 23 Apr 12

There are lots of Certifications where you can study for free and teach yourself, then pay $200 for the exam. Employers seem to like them, IMO they teach you very little, you’ll get more out of exploring and trying thigs out yourself. Still get a couple of those for say Microsoft or Cisco and they’ll offer more money. My company makes me do them, because the government tenders use them as standards.

#11
VYBerlinaV8_is_back1:23 pm, 23 Apr 12

IT is an enormous industry, where your job and income can vary more than you would believe possible.

FWIW, I’d be avoiding helpdesk and going and learning to be a solution designer, or even a specialist in an area that you know something about or are interested in. As someone else said, keeping moving and learning.

Where I work, contractors easily pull $130+ per hour, but it takes a number of years to build the skills needed.

#12
RedDogInCan3:53 pm, 23 Apr 12

Dilandach said :

Don’t be that fat guy who sits on the helpdesk and has no ambition to move up or do anything that would interfere with his neck beard growing or writing sailor moon / dragonball z fanfic cross overs.

Hey! I work on a help desk and I resemble that remark.

#13
thatsnotme6:41 pm, 23 Apr 12

It’s not clear from your OP whether you’re currently working in IT and looking for another IT job, or moving into IT from a completely different field?

When it comes to help desk work, it gets a bad rap, but not all help desks are created equal. They run the range from those where you’re encouraged to close or escalate the job in as quick a time as possible to make the stats look good, to those where you’re allowed the freedom to do more troubleshooting and research into issues, and spend more time trying to find solutions to problems yourself. Unless you enjoy reading from scripts all day long, try to avoid the first type. They’re the ones that are a dead end.

The second type can be a great stepping stone to other roles in IT though, because you have the ability to learn on the job, and possibly have a closer interaction with other areas in the infrastructure, like your network comms guys, server engineers, SOE developers and application packagers, etc etc. You’re probably more likely to find these type of environments in smaller agencies, who don’t necessarily have the budget for large IT sections, so roles are more broadly defined. An area with mostly full time staff is probably going to be better as well, as there can be openings that come along if full timers leave.

I know in my agency, our help desk guys are a minimum of APS 5 – so they’re on around $66 – $70,000 a year.

#14
1337Hax0r9:31 pm, 23 Apr 12

I’ve worked in IT for years. I’m in a help desk role because I love it. I mean I really really love it. Most jobs are a quick log it, resolve it, close it. With my experience almost every job is a first level resolve for me. I mean I am #THE# go to guy of the place, and I like that. But there are always jobs in the queue that are a challenge and keep me thinking. I love the customer service aspect of the job, because I like interacting with people, and I like to make them happy. I always get sent off to keep the VIP customers going because I can speak with them with no fear and I know what I am talking about. Plus, they’re just happy some one is resolving the job for them.

I will be looking into team lead roles, because I like to develop people. Probably server admin or email admin too because I know lots of that.

Honestly though, I really do love help desk. I’m just wondering what rate to ask for when applying for new jobs. The company I work for has a “do not discuss your wages” policy so I have no idea what my co-workers are on. The company looks to be making to lose their contact with a government department so it is better to bail now than go down with the ship.

#15
thatsnotme10:03 pm, 23 Apr 12

1337Hax0r said :

I’ve worked in IT for years. I’m in a help desk role because I love it. I mean I really really love it. Most jobs are a quick log it, resolve it, close it. With my experience almost every job is a first level resolve for me. I mean I am #THE# go to guy of the place, and I like that. But there are always jobs in the queue that are a challenge and keep me thinking. I love the customer service aspect of the job, because I like interacting with people, and I like to make them happy. I always get sent off to keep the VIP customers going because I can speak with them with no fear and I know what I am talking about. Plus, they’re just happy some one is resolving the job for them.

I will be looking into team lead roles, because I like to develop people. Probably server admin or email admin too because I know lots of that.

Honestly though, I really do love help desk. I’m just wondering what rate to ask for when applying for new jobs. The company I work for has a “do not discuss your wages” policy so I have no idea what my co-workers are on. The company looks to be making to lose their contact with a government department so it is better to bail now than go down with the ship.

I think you need to decide whether you want to go down a management path, or a technical path. Saying that you want to look into team lead stuff because you like to develop people, but then talking about moving into server / email admin ’cause you know about those sounds to me like you don’t have a very clear idea of where your career could progress.

Where you are right now, is very similar to where I was a few years back. On a help desk, getting paid ok, and completely comfortable. Having the odd job in your queue that’s a bit more complicated and makes you have to think a bit is nice, but on the help desk if you can’t figure it out, you just escalate it, so there’s no real pressure. Why wouldn’t you now look to move into being that escalation point? If you’ve got the experience, and you’ve turned into the go-to guy in your current role, it seems like a pretty natural progression – and then, you’re starting to move into areas where you can specialise, and ask for more money.

Personally, I moved from help desk into a desktop engineer role. I still get to interact with users, via escalated jobs. I still have to sort out issues that are reported – except they’re all the complicated ones, as our help desk has filtered out the simple stuff (well…most of the time!) But I also get to design and implement new functionality for our systems, I’m involved in the direction IT in my organisation is heading, I’m heavily involved in designing a new desktop SOE for the organisation, and I earn over $90k a year in a full time role.

Honestly? You could spend a lot of time and effort on trying to get the best rate for another help desk role, or you could expand your horizons and look at work with all the interesting stuff from help desk jobs, but without the associated crap. If you have the knowledge and experience, there’s nothing holding you back.

#16
HenryBG11:35 pm, 23 Apr 12

Sounds like you’re worth $80/hour, but only if you pull your finger out and admit you’re capable of greater responsibility.

#17
devils_advocate8:49 am, 24 Apr 12

If you’re looking for a job in the public service, it’s worth noting they’re very risk averse. Given the state of the APS job market at the moment, your optimal strategy might be to try for an APS 4 (or even 3) and work your way up from there. Once you demonstrate that you’re APS material and have some (any) leadership characteristics, it won’t take long to progress up to and beyond your target salary.

#18
Khun Ying11:25 am, 14 May 12

I’m not in Help Desk role but in IT more than 10 years in various roles. The current one is a senior tester. The hightest one was IT assistant manager and Test Team lead. I don’t enjoy managment or interacting to people that much.

Anyway, back to your question, help desk is a good step to set your foot into the IT world. You can learn fast and obtain many skills by trying to solve issues. However, it will drain you out because the nature of the jobs. People call because they have problems and angry.

Being a contractor, you need to find a good pimp (your agent) because most of them are bad, dis-honest and charge you an arm&leg. Currently, I got charge 8$ per hour and also have to pay 3$ for the payroll. I got the job by myself through my pervious boss but I can’t choose other pimps, aprart from this one which in on the governemtn pannel.

The rate will be varies based on your skills, demand and your pimp fee. They normally won’t tell you but you should insist to ask and get confirmation in writing/email. You need to know because the employer will expect you to worth as much they pay you for.

Become a public servant (ASP) might be good for some people who love more stable environment, heavily guildline and structures. I couldn’t stand it. I was a public servant for 3 years before turning into a contractor.

Good luck to whatever you do.

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